Archive for September, 2010

Monkey Bread

What do you get when you take fluffy balls of dough, dunk them in butter, coat them in cinnamon sugar, and bake them in a Bundt pan?  You get one of the yummiest breakfasts I’ve ever made.  This bread tastes like a cinnamon roll, only better, because it’s extra gooey, extra buttery, and extra delicious.  This bread was fun to assemble, and even more fun to eat.  A word of warning: I don’t recommend making this bread unless there are lots of people around to help you eat it.  I made it over the weekend for just Eric and me, and before I knew it, it was almost half gone.  (Oops!)  It is so addicting!  (It was definitely worth the extra miles I’m going to have to run to burn off all those calories :) ).

I think this monkey bread would be the perfect thing to serve at a special brunch or Holiday breakfast.  And if you do have leftovers, just re-warm them in the microwave for about 30 seconds and they will be soft and gooey again just like after coming out of the oven.  Enjoy!

Monkey Bread



  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, 2 tablespoons softened and 2 tablespoons melted
  • 1 cup milk, warm (about 110 degrees F)
  • 1/3 cup water, warm (about 110 degrees F)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 package instant yeast
  • 3¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Brown Sugar Coating:

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted


  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk


  1. Butter Bundt pan with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Set aside.
  2. In a large measuring cup, mix together milk, water, melted butter, sugar and yeast. Mix flour and salt in standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn machine to low and slowly add milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes. Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form smooth, round ball. Coat large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Place dough in bowl and coat surface of dough with cooking spray. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a draft-free area until dough doubles in size, 50 to 60 minutes.
  3. For the sugar coating: While the dough is rising, mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Place melted butter in second bowl. Set aside.
  4. To form the bread: Gently remove the dough from the bowl, and pat into a rough 8-inch square. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut dough into 64 pieces.
  5. Roll each dough piece into a ball. Working one at a time, dip the balls into the melted butter, allowing excess butter to drip back into the bowl. Roll in the brown sugar mixture, then layer balls in the Bundt pan, staggering seams where dough balls meet as you build layers.
  6. Cover the Bundt pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in draft-free area until dough balls are puffy and have risen 1 to 2 inches from top of pan, 50 to 70 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unwrap the pan and bake until the top is deep brown and caramel begins to bubble around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a platter and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
  8. For the glaze: While the bread cools, whisk the confectioners’ sugar and milk in a small bowl until the lumps are gone. Using a whisk, drizzle the glaze over the monkey bread, letting it run over top and down the sides of the bread. Serve warm.

Note: To make without a stand mixer: In step 2, mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the flour, then add the milk mixture to the well.  Using a wooden spoon, stir the dough until it becomes shaggy and is difficult to stir. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and begin to knead, incorporating the shaggy scraps back into the dough. Knead until dough is smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes.  Shape into a taut ball and proceed as directed.

Yield: 1 loaf, serves 6 to 8

Source: Brown Eyed Baker Blog; Originally from Cook’s Illustrated


Fruity Smoothie

Lately I have been making a lot of smoothies.  They are the perfect snack!  This smoothie has mangoes, banana, peaches, orange juice, and raspberry or mango sorbet in it.  It is an adaptation of this recipe, and I have made it many times.  I hope you like this smoothie recipe as much as I do!

Fruity Smoothie


  • 1 banana, broken up into a few pieces
  • ½ cup frozen mango cubes
  • ½ cup frozen sliced peaches
  • ½ cup raspberry or mango sorbet
  • ¾ cup orange juice


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth and creamy.  If needed, add a little extra orange juice and blend until the smoothie is the correct consistency.

Yield: 1 large smoothie or 2 smaller smoothies

Variation: To make a blueberry, banana, peach smoothie, use blueberries instead of mangoes.

Happy Fall!

Fall is Here!

I love Fall for many reasons.  Here are a few things I like about this season, in no particular order.

  • Yummy soups & stews– Soup is one of my favorite things to make when the weather is colder.  This recipe for Beef Bourguignon (beef stew with red wine) is fantastic!  And a few of my favorite soups are butternut squash, creamy tomato, and minestrone.  There is nothing better than a hot bowl of homemade soup on a chilly night!

Beef Bourguignon

  • Hot Coffee – During the summer I drink mostly iced coffee or iced lattes, but when Fall rolls around I like to switch back to hot coffees.  I am also excited to try a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks!

  • The Holidays – I love, love, love the holidays!  Specifically, all the decorating and baking that goes along with them.  I can’t wait to decorate my house and bake my favorite Christmas cookies.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

  • Fireplaces & fall-scented candles – This is the time of year that I get to burn my favorite fall & holiday candles – cinnamon, pumpkin, nutmeg, & apple cider!

  • Sweaters & scarves – I love cozy sweaters, and cute scarves are one of my favorite accessories.  I can’t wait until it is cold enough to wear them again!

  • The snow – It doesn’t snow where I live, but every year we visit Lake Tahoe to ski & have fun in the snow.

And just for fun, here are a few photos of the Fall sugar cookies I made.  The inspiration for these cookies came from the blog Bake at 350.

Happy Fall!

Rich Chocolate Brownie Cake

There are 3 reasons why you should make this brownie cake.  1) It’s easy,  2) It’s yummy, and 3) It’s fun!  The fun part is making a “stencil” and dusting the top of the cake with powdered sugar to reveal the stencil design.  Of course, if that’s not your thing, you can simply just dust the whole cake with powdered sugar and skip the stencil part.  If you do decide to make a stencil design on your cake, it’s really easy.  I just used Microsoft Word and printed out a few star shapes on plain white printer paper.  (You can also just draw your design freehand).  Then I cut them out, placed them on top of the cake, and dusted the cake with powdered sugar.  This cake is a fun alternative to regular brownies.  Enjoy!

Rich Chocolate Brownie Cake


  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces good-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, at least 61% cacao, coarsely chopped (I used a Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate baking bar that was 60% cacao)
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan with a round of parchment paper.  Spray the parchment and sides of the pan with nonstick baking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.  Add the sugar and beat until well blended.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat again until well blended.  Add the salt and ¼ cup of the flour and beat well.  Add the remaining flour in two batches, beating well after each addition.
  3. Melt the chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler set over (but not touching) gently simmering water.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, 2-3 minutes.  Add it to the cake batter and beat until well blended and creamy.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with a spatula.
  4. Bake until the cake is puffed and a toothpick inserted into its center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  5. Invert the cake onto a cake stand or cake plate and peel off the parchment paper.  (If desired, you can flip the cake back over so it is right-side up). Place a stencil of your choice on top, and then sift the confectioners’ sugar over the stencil to create a pattern.  Carefully lift off the stencil.  (Or just skip the stencil and dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar).
  6. To serve, slice into wedges.

Serves: 8-10

Source: adapted from the Williams Sonoma Holiday Entertaining Cookbook (This cake is featured on the cover of the cookbook!)

Light Brioche Burger Buns

I never thought the day would come where I’d be making my own hamburger buns from scratch.  Why would anyone want to do that when you can just purchase them from the bread aisle?  Isn’t it too much work?  Are they really that much better?  These are the questions I asked myself before committing to this recipe.  I love to experiment with new recipes though, so I gave this one a shot, and I’m so glad I did!

It turns out, homemade buns are incredibly easy to make.  The stand mixer did all of the (mixing & kneading) work.  Start to finish, they took 4-5 hours, but most of that time was inactive prep time while the dough was rising.  For so little effort, the product was amazing!  These buns were delicious.  One thing that sets them apart from standard store bought ones is the texture.  They are soft, yet they hold their own and don’t get soggy like store bought buns sometimes do.  And I froze the leftover buns, so the next time I make burgers, I’ll already have them.  Try these, you will love them!  Enjoy!

Light Brioche Burger Buns


  • 3 tbsp. warm milk
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 2½ tbsp. sugar
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2½ tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

For topping:

  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water, for egg wash
  • Sesame seeds


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, water, yeast, sugar, salt and egg.  Mix briefly to combine.  Add the flours to the bowl, and mix until incorporated.  Mix in the butter.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 6-8 minutes.  The dough will be somewhat tacky, but you want to avoid adding too much extra flour which will create tough buns.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Using a dough scraper, divide the dough into 8 equal parts.  Gently roll each portion of dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet, 2-3 inches apart.  Cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise again, 1-2 hours, until puffed up and nearly doubled.
  4. Set a large metal pan of water on the lowest rack of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 400˚ F with a rack in the center.  Brush the tops of the buns lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake the buns about 15 minutes rotating halfway through baking, until the tops are golden brown.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Yield: 8 buns

Source: Annie’s Eats, originally adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Comme Ça via The New York Times

When you place the shaped dough on a baking sheet to rise, make sure each bun is spaced far apart. I used multiple cookie sheets to ensure that the dough wouldn't touch when it rises.

Cupcake Sugar Cookies

Here are a few photos of the cupcake sugar cookies that I recently made.  This cookie cutter was a gift from my Mom – I love it!  These cookies were so much fun to decorate!

cupcake cookie cutter

Amaretto Madeleines

I found this recipe for amaretto madeleines on one of my favorite blogs, Bake at 350.  Madeleines are little French cakes that look like cookies – basically they are cookies with the texture of a cake.  And in case you aren’t familiar with amaretto, it’s an almond flavored Italian liqueur that smells and tastes delicious.  The combination of amaretto and vanilla bean in these madeleines is wonderful.  They are the perfect little treat!  Enjoy!

Amaretto Madeleines


  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 2/3  cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. amaretto liqueur
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 1 cup flour, sifted


  1. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a saucepan.  Simmer gently until the butter deepens slightly and there are small flecks of brown in the butter, about 5 minutes.
  2. Set aside to cool to room temperature.  Beat the sugar, salt and eggs several minutes until they are light yellow and thickened.  Stir in the amaretto and vanilla bean paste.
    Gently fold in the flour and butter in 3 additions each, alternating between the two. Refrigerate the batter for 45 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375.  Brush the madeleine pan with melted butter.  Fill the pans with 1 heaping tablespoon of dough per cookie.
  4. Bake 12 minutes until the edges are light brown.  Let cool in the pan 5 minutes.  Carefully remove from pan and let cool completely on a cooling rack.

Note: If making these in 2 batches, let the pan cool completely.  Wipe out the cookie molds and re-coat with melted butter.

Yield: 22 madeleines (Note: I halved the recipe and was able to get 12 madeleines from half of the batter- just the perfect amount for my madeleine pan.)

Amaretto-Vanilla Bean Glaze


  • 1 & ¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 TBSP whole milk (or whatever you have on hand, lower fat will make a thinner glaze)
  • 2 TBSP amaretto liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)


  1. Whisk to combine all of the ingredients.
  2. Place the madeleines on a cooling rack placed on a cookie sheet.  (This will catch the glaze and make for easier clean-up.)  Spoon glaze over the cooled cookies.

By the time I got around to glazing the cookies, there were only 5 left! :) That just shows you how good they were, even without the glaze!

Source: Bake at 350 Blog

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